Problem/background

Limited empirical data are available on the experiences of women who have been a gestational surrogate.

Methods

An anonymous study-specific cross-sectional survey was used to evaluate participants’ experience of being a surrogate. A total of 184 Canadian women who were recruited from Canadian surrogacy agencies and the Internet completed the online survey; 9446 words were collected from 110 participants who entered comments to one or more questions. The qualitative data were analyzed through thematic analysis.

Discussion

Surrogacy involves deliberate efforts to establish a trustful surrogate-parent partnership through relationship building, boundary negotiation, and management of expectations. The compatibility between surrogate and intended parents, regarding aspects such as communication and pregnancy management styles, was an important contributing factor to a positive experience.

Conclusion

Our findings provide a deeper understanding of participants’ reasons for and motivation to be a surrogate, the relationship dynamics with their intended parents and the gestated fetus during surrogacy, and their satisfaction on personal and relationship levels post surrogacy. The findings would be useful to mental health professionals in preparing new surrogates for the potential challenges along the surrogacy pathway.